The Viewpoints of Jesse Helms

Viewpoint letterhead

The recent death of Jesse Helms, formerly United States Senator from North Carolina, started me thinking about our collection of transcripts of Helms’s Viewpoint television editorials. Between 1960 and 1972 Helms was the on-air editorialist for the evening news on Raleigh’s WRAL-TV. Our former curator, Bill Powell, talked the television station into letting us have transcripts of the talks, more than 2500 editorials in all. Direct copies of the videos had long since disappeared. Almost from the day we made them available the editorials have been among our most frequently used items, reflecting in part Jesse Helms’s rise to a position of power and leadership in the Senate and in the conservative political movement in the United States. Opinion on the content of the editorials varies widely, if not wildly, but they are never dull. Helms, who had been a reporter or editor most of his life, was a gifted writer and polemicist. Another attraction of the WRAL editorials is that, as a recent biographer has noted, Helms was remarkably consistent in his political views over his long political career, and the opinions of Helms the editorialist link closely to the opinions of Helms the political leader.

7 thoughts on “The Viewpoints of Jesse Helms”

  1. Mr. Hill,
    Thanks for your comment. We in the North Carolina Collection are keen to make Jesse Helm’s Viewpoints available on the web. Because his commentaries are copyright, we’ll need to get permission to put them up. We’re still working on that. Rest assured that we’ll keep them up as soon as we can. So, stay tuned.

  2. Mr. Jones,
    The North Carolina Collection at Wilson Library holds transcripts of the Helms Viewpoints. We do NOT hold audio or video recordings. We’ve been told that such recordings no longer exist. One explanation is that videotape was expensive at the time that Helms delivered his commentaries, so station staff periodically recorded over previously recorded Viewpoints. We’re keen to find some recordings. But, thus far, we’ve had no success.

  3. Mr. Blythe, who originally had the audio/video recordings in possession? Could it be in the WRAL archives?

  4. Ayla,
    Viewpoint aired on WRAL, so, presumably the station would have held recordings (if they were made). Word from John Wilson, the filmmaker responsible for the documentary Senator No (https://catalog.lib.unc.edu/catalog/UNCb5635489), and from a longtime WRAL staffer is that the recordings don’t exist. John was keen to find such recordings for his documentary about Helms, so I believe he explored many avenues.

    Best,

    John Blythe
    Assistant Curator
    North Carolina Collection

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